What are Personality Disorders?
A personality disorder is a type of mental illness in which you have trouble perceiving and relating to situations and to people — including yourself.
In general, having a personality disorder means you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking and behaving no matter what the situation. This leads to significant problems and limitations in relationships, social encounters, work and school.
In some cases, you may not realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you, and you may blame others for the challenges you face. There are many specific types of personality disorders and because there are too many identified types of personality disorders to explain in this context, we will only review a few.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
People with borderline personality disorder are unstable in several areas, including interpersonal relationships, behavior, mood, and self-image. Abrupt and extreme mood changes, stormy interpersonal relationships, an unstable and fluctuating self-image, unpredictable and self-destructive actions characterize the person with borderline personality disorder.
These individuals generally have great difficulty with their own sense of identity. They often experience the world in extremes, viewing others as either “all good” or “all bad.” A person with borderline personality may form an intense personal attachment with someone only to quickly dissolve it over a perceived slight. Fears of abandonment may lead to an excessive dependency on others. Self-multilation or recurrent suicidal gestures may be used to get attention and/or to manipulate others. Impulsive actions, chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness, and bouts of intense inappropriate anger are other traits of this disorder, which is more common among females. It is a mental health disorder that generates significant emotional instability. This can lead to a variety of other stressful mental and behavioral problems.
With borderline personality disorder, you may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless and fundamentally flawed. Anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you may desire to have loving and lasting relationships.
If you have borderline personality disorder, or love someone who does, don't get discouraged. Many people with this disorder get better with treatment and can live productive and satisfying lives.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial Personality Disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which a person's ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are abnormal — and destructive.
People with antisocial personality disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong. They may often violate the law and the rights of others, landing in frequent trouble or conflict. They may lie, behave violently, and have drug and alcohol problems. And people with antisocial personality disorder may not be able to fulfill responsibilities to family, work or school.
People with antisocial personality disorder characteristically act out their conflicts and ignore normal rules of social behavior. These individuals are impulsive, irresponsible, and callous. Typically, the antisocial personality has a history of legal difficulties, belligerent and irresponsible behavior, aggressive and even violent relationships. They show no respect for other people and feel no remorse about the effects of their behavior on others. These people were at high risk for substance abuse, especially alcoholism, since it helps them to relieve tension, irritability and boredom.
Antisocial personality disorder is sometimes known as sociopathic personality disorder. A sociopath is a particularly severe form of antisocial personality disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Most people who have OCD are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, yet they feel powerless to stop them. They suffer from unwanted and intrusive thoughts that they can't seem to get out of their heads (obsessions), often compelling them to repeatedly perform ritualistic behaviors and routines (compulsions) to try and ease their anxiety such as excessive hand washing, placing things in order, repeatedly having to check the lights or stove are off before they leave the house, counting, etc.
These can interfere with a person's normal routine, schoolwork, job, family, or social activities. Several hours every day may be spent focusing on obsessive thoughts and performing seemingly senseless rituals. Trying to concentrate on daily activities may be difficult. Left untreated, OCD can interfere with all aspects of life. If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from OCD please seek the assistance from your healthcare provider or mental health specialist.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.
Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personalities are often hypersensitive to rejection and are unwilling to become involved with others unless they are sure of being liked. Excessive social discomfort, timidity, fear of criticism, avoidance of social or work activities that involve interpersonal contact are characteristic of the avoidant personality. They are fearful of saying something considered foolish by others; worry they will blush or cry in front of others; and are very hurt by any disapproval by others. People with avoidant personality disorder may have no close relationships outside of their family circle, although they would like to, and are upset at their inability to relate well to others.
Dependent Personality Disorder
People with dependent personality disorder may exhibit a pattern of dependent and submissive behavior, relying on others to make decisions for them. They require excessive reassurance and advice, and are easily hurt by criticism or disapproval. They feel uncomfortable and helpless if they are alone, and can be devastated when a close relationship ends. They have a strong fear of rejection. Typically lacking in self-confidence, the dependent personality rarely initiates projects or does things independently. This disorder usually begins by early adulthood and is diagnosed more frequently in females than males.
Treatment of the Personality Disorder
There are many types of help available for the different personality disorders. Treatment may include individual, group, or family psychotherapy. Medications, prescribed by a patient’s physician, may also be helpful in relieving some of the symptoms of personality disorders, including problems with anxiety and perceptions.
Psychotherapy for patients with personality disorders focuses on helping them see the unconscious conflicts that are contributing to or causing their symptoms. It also helps people become more flexible and is aimed at reducing the behavior patterns that interfere with everyday living.
In psychotherapy, people with personality disorders can better recognize the effects of their behavior on others. Behavior and cognitive therapies focus on resolving symptoms or traits that are characteristic of the disorder, such as the inability to make important life decisions or the inability to initiate relationships.
There is Hope
The more you learn about personality disorders the more you will understand that they are illnesses, with causes and treatments. People can improve with proper care. By seeking out information you can recognize the signs and symptoms of a personality disorder and help yourself or someone you know live a healthier more fulfilling life.